For more than a year, there has been a buzz around town about some analysis work that the U.K.-based Tribal Group had done in the course of a consulting contract with Metro Nashville Public Schools. From Andrea Zelinski's cover story:
What Tribal researchers heard from school administrators was that the centralized MNPS management was more an impediment to progress than an accelerant. Principals complained of "too many initiatives coming from the District" and said they "do not feel confident to abandon things that are not working well," according to a December 2011 Tribal Group report.
Based on these findings, Tribal recommended that MNPS grant more control to principals, giving them greater command and hence a larger stake in their schools' success. Principals "need to be left alone to focus on the improvement journey for their own particular schools," the report stated.
The district took the recommendations in stride, then asked Tribal to go deeper into the Central Office's role at the behest of Director of Schools Jesse Register. Of Tribal Group's four findings a year later, two pointed to the culture of the district office suffocating schools. The Central Office is too bureaucratic and doesn't effectively support continuous improvement, it found, while principals lack autonomy and there's no clearly defined accountability.
Getting to read those reports, which were funded with taxpayer dollars and subject to the Tennessee Open Records Act, however, proved hard to do. Informally and formally in 2012, The City Paper requested Tribal's reports assessing the central office. We weren't the only ones. As detailed in the story, requests by elected officials and others never produced all of the records from MNPS. A limited number of people saw only a few documents.
How big was it? It was 20 times brighter than the Moon before breaking apart (we hope).
From NASA's Watch The Skies blog:
Early Wednesday morning, at 3:27:20 AM Eastern Time, a piece of an asteroid, about 2 feet in diameter and weighing over 100 pounds, entered Earth’s atmosphere above the Georgia/Tennessee border, just south of Cleveland. The meteor was moving northeast at 56,000 miles per hour, and began to break apart north east of Ocoee, at an altitude of 33 miles. A second, fragmentation occurred less than half a second later, at an altitude of 29 miles. NASA cameras lost track of the fireball pieces at an altitude of 21 miles, by which time they had slowed to a speed of 19,400 mph. Sensors on the ground recorded sound waves (“sonic booms”) from this event, and there are indications on Doppler weather radar of a rain of small meteoritic particles falling to the ground east of Cleveland, Tennessee.
[Pith apologizes for the WalMart pre-roll ad at the beginning of the Space.com video player. But they did slow it down, label the Moon and make it a lot better than the 4-second clip NASA stuck on YouTube.]
Yesterday, the Feds denied the Knox County Sheriff's attempt to get into the controversial 287(g) program, which gives immigration enforcement authority to local agencies. You might remember that Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall walked away from the program last year amid criticism from immigration groups here.
So it was interesting to read Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones' response to the rejection (emphasis is Pith's):
Once again, the federal government has used sequestration as a smokescreen to shirk its responsibilities for providing safety and security to its citizens by denying Knox County the 287(g) corrections model. An inept administration is clearing the way for law breaking illegal immigrants to continue to thrive in our community and ultimately be allowed to reside in the United States. Hopefully, the denial of this program will not create an influx of illegal immigrants who think that without this program they will be able to break the law and then be less likely to be deported.
The vast majority of Knox County citizens feel just as I do when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration. I strongly support the 287(g) program and will continue to make every effort to pursue its implementation. I will continue to enforce these federal immigration violations with or without the help of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If need be, I will stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail until the appropriate federal agency responds.”
Hmmmmm. Pith knows its heard that phrase before. But where?
Oh, yeah. It's how Allied soldiers frequently described dead bodies when they got to Buchenwald and Dachau.
Nice turn of the phrase, Sheriff. We're sure that's not meant to be intimidating at all.
With much national fanfare, the council of the Chattanooga suburb of Collegedale recently voted to extend benefits to same-sex partners who were married in another state, even though Tennessee does not recognized their union.
But it came at a price for the family of the police officer at the center of the story: Her family was kicked out of their church of 60 years.
Leaders at Ridgedale Church of Christ met in private with Kat Cooper's mother, aunt and uncle on Sunday after the regular worship service. They were given an ultimatum: They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church.
"My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That's it," said Kat Cooper. "Literally, they're exiling members for unconditionally loving their children — and even extended family members."
But the family's support of Kat Cooper was as good as an endorsement of homosexuality, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ.
"The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle," Willis said. "The Bible speaks very plainly about that."
The Cooper family has been members at Ridgedale for more than 60 years. A picture of Cooper's grandfather hangs on the wall of the church — he was an elder.
So, we asked Pith commenters to weigh in on an interesting Craigslist ad on Wednesday.
The discussion was lively.
There was the Kill-Them-All-and-Let-God-Sort-Them-Out school of thought:
Burn it down. Scatter the stones. Salt the earth where it stood.
And its opposite number, the This-One's-Too-Little-Let's-Throw-It-Back school:
With other pressing issues in America and abroad, leave the poor guy alone. He's not a predator. Stupid move, but def not worth wrecking someone's career over.
Come one, come all. Let's play the "Pith In The Wind Moral Dilemma Game" — the interactive blog post that invites you, the reader, to decide the outcome!
First we ask you to turn your attention to this Craigslist ad, passed along by an intrepid Pith tipster (try saying that a few times in a row).
What's that? The ad is gone?
Fortunately, we saved it:
$250 to finish AP Calculus Course 30% left (Online)
I need someone to finish my daughter's ONLINE AP Calculus course. ASAP $250 all in must pass. You must have done well as a student yourself. Start ASAP reply today start today. Work from home !!! 30% left to finish CALL Steve [number redacted]
Pith called the number. Here's a transcript of the call:
The Tennessee Regulatory Authority says 615 is running out of numbers, so we need a new area code. The press release explains the situation:
There are two viable options under consideration in the case being looked at by the TRA to address the 615 area code issue: Option one involves an Overlay. An overlay would permit retention of all current 615 numbers, but require 10-digit dialing for local calls within the 615 area. All new subscribers would receive the new area code.
Option two involves a Split. Under a split, seven-digit dialing of local calls would remain within the area code, but would require approximately half of wireless and landline customers within the current area code to change their telephone numbers.
Let's be honest. There's one viable option and one option that only makes sense if we all agree to pretend it's 1980. Here in the future, we might as well just have the overlay, because people don't change phone numbers when they move anymore. So, even if the Tennessee Regulatory Authority split 615 in half (or, what would make more sense is leave Davidson County 615 and change everyone else), quite quickly there are going to be a lot of "local" people in either area who have a phone number with the area code of the other area, so people are going to end up dialing a lot of ten digit numbers for local people anyway. Area codes no longer tell people where you live. They tell people where you lived when you bought your first cell phone.
(For reference, here's a map of our current area codes.)
So, I'm not sure why this is even up for discussion. But, hey, if you want to have a say, you can vote here.Fittingly for a discussion from the past, you can also fax your vote, but not text.
"When I was 3 or 4 years old, we had a neighbor two doors down in Ripley named Connie Henderson. A very nice young lady named Anna Mae Bullock worked for that family. Of course, Anna Mae Bullock later changed her name and became Tina Turner. I don't remember a whole lot about her. She was about 10 years my senior and took care of all the neighborhood kids when we played over at the Henderson's house. I will say though, that she did name her oldest son Craig, so maybe she remembered me fondly. I doubt it, but one can always dream!"
So how did the Aurora theater shooter obtain the 6,000 rounds of ammunition he had stockpiled before he shot and killed 12 people and wounded 58 others? The short answer, from this excellent excellent piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: He bought them online from a company in St. Louis that isn't really in St. Louis but is owned by a company with an office address in Knoxville that ships from a warehouse outside of Atlanta.
The Missouri secretary of state has no record of BulkAmmo.com. But Tennessee does. State records there show BulkAmmo.com is registered to a company that also operates under the names LuckyGunner.com, Ammoforsale.com and Ammo.net, among others.
These entities all sell ammunition online. Each deploys different online store layouts and often different prices. Each lists a business address that leads to an Earth Class Mail box in a different city, including St. Louis, Atlanta and Richmond, Va.
But records show these ammo retailers all are owned by one company — LuckyGunner LLC. Its mailing address is an Earth Class Mail box in New York City. The office address is in Knoxville.
For the long and tortuous answer — and the questions its complexity raises — read the whole story here.
The most controversial new mosque you haven't heard of does not exist.
Just as urgent emails were beginning to hit our inboxes, the Schermerhorn Mosque has been revealed as a hoax. That's just as well, since the group opposing the forthcoming terror factory, 100,000 Strong to Stop the Schermerhorn Mosque, has managed to attract the support of 34 people on Facebook.
We've confirmed with the Nashville Symphony that the Al Hussein Music City Islamic Center — known to opponents as the Shariahorn — will not be renting space at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, a building recently saved from a fate almost as horrifying.
In fact, Schermerhorn publicist Laurie Davis tells us that while the building is occasionally rented out, as a nonprofit the Symphony does not rent to religious organizations for services. They will, however, be providing aid and comfort to an ABBA tribute concert in July.
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